One of the most fundamental questions people ask when running a channel on YouTube is, “How long should a YouTube video be?”
If you’re just starting and want your channel to be monetized as soon as possible, you should know that you need at least one thousand subscribers and four thousand hours of watch time during the past twelve months.
On the other hand, if you’ve had a YouTube channel for a while now, you’re probably studying the analytics section, trying to get to the right formula for growing your channel exponentially overnight.
In this article we will cover everything you need to know about video length for YouTube videos.
Table of Contents
- What is The Best YouTube Video Length?
- What is The Maximum YouTube Video Length?
- Video Length Best Practices
- Ideal YouTube Video Length Per Niche
What is The Best YouTube Video Length?
As we already wrote, one of the most popular questions among YouTubers is what is the best length for a YouTube video? Shorter or Longer YouTube videos?
Here’s the deal:
Your watch time is absolutely critical regardless of where you stand in your YouTube journey. You may automatically think that making a longer YouTube video is the ultimate answer for the success of your channel. It all adds up.
Four thousand people will watch your hour-long video right till the end, and you’ll hit that lucky number that gets your channel monetized. It’s that simple…or is it?
Well, that is exactly how things would go down in an ideal world. But, unfortunately, this is the real world, and things are not so simple!
If a long-form YouTube video is not the answer, should we all stick to YouTube videos around five minutes or shorter? That way, more people will watch the video, and there’s a solid chance that once the YouTube video is viral. You can repeat the process with other videos, and presto! You’re minting money already.
Well, sadly, that is not a winning strategy either. So let’s get into greater detail and see if we can figure this out.
What is The Maximum YouTube Video Length?
- First and foremost, something to note here is that when you start your YouTube channel, chances are that your account will be unverified, allowing you to post videos with a maximum limit of only 15 minutes.
- However, once your account is verified, YouTube allows you to post videos with a maximum video length of 12 hours or 125 GB.
Verification is a simple process that requires submitting a verification code by visiting the settings menu of your channel and following the steps.
One Size Fits All?
So, is there one strategy that fits all niches, purposes, and audiences? The answer to that is a resounding “No!”
People have very short attention spans these days. With so much online content and the ease with which information can be accessed through mobile devices and different online sources, people tend to get distracted very easily.
Your video must be as long as it needs to be to serve its purpose but short enough so that people don’t get bored to the point that they think of switching to something else.
That may sound vague, but this is the outline you must follow to hold your audience.
Video Length Best Practices
There are a lot of factors that come into play when deciding the video length of the video that best suits your niche.
But what may suit others may not be the right fit for you.
It all comes down to some of these variables:
- The type of channel you have (niche)
- Target audience demographics (audience age, gender, location, etc.)
- The enthusiasm, tone, and captivating power of the host
- How the information is presented
If you don’t have the patience to look at the stats or go through articles/videos to get more answers, you can always jump right into it and see where it takes you. What may be the right length for one video may not be the ideal length for another video.
You can try and make a few videos that have a video length ranging from 3 to 5 minutes. Try a few that are a bit longer, like between the 10-to-15-minute mark.
Moreover, you could even experiment with a video that is 30 minutes to 1 hour long. It is up to you to find the sweet spot for different types of channels.
Change Your Approach
Another tricky thing to keep in mind here is that regardless of what you find through experimentation and a trial-and-error approach, you need to continuously reinvent yourself and your channel to a certain extent so that things don’t get stale.
This means that depending on what stage you are in, in your channel’s life cycle, you will have to devise a plan accordingly for YouTube success.
Generally, video length best practices suggest varying between long and short videos when you’re starting or are at an intermediate level of sorts in terms of subscribers and viewing hours.
However, as your channel grows and you get more traffic driven towards you, you now seem to have earned the trust of your viewers, and YouTube is suggesting your videos to relevant viewers as well.
No is the time that you can venture out into the realm of longer videos. How long a video should be now that you have an established channel is still a point of debate.
It is safe to say that you can start off with videos ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour. If you get a good response, you may push the envelope even further and see what kind of viewership that results in.
Check the Competition
A good way to get a general idea about the ideal length of a YouTube video is to do adequate research in advance.
You can start by checking out other videos in your niche. Check the video length of someone that comes close to the type of video you’re thinking of making to get an idea of the optimal video length.
That should give you a range to follow. In today’s fast-paced world, people want information, but they want it as soon as possible. Suppose you offer a solution to a problem and give it in a shorter video by making content that grabs your audience’s attention.
In that case, chances are that you will get more views as people will see more value in your video compared to others. The YouTube algorithm will also pick up on this and will suggest your content to more viewers on YouTube.
However, it cannot be highlighted enough that this is not a concrete rule. What would you do if you want to learn how to create a website and you come across a 4-minute video that claims to give you a complete tutorial on it and a 45-minute video that vows to do the same?
You may think that a video length of 45 minutes makes much more sense rather than a 4-minute video which just isn’t enough time to cover this vast topic.
So, it all comes down to what content you’re offering, how it compares to your competition, and whether the video length justifies the content.
Ideal YouTube Video Length Per Niche
If you wish to grow your channel, YouTube Shorts cannot be ignored. Ever since its launch, YouTube Shorts videos have seen more than 5 trillion views.
So, it wouldn’t make sense to miss out on such an opportunity. Fortunately, YouTube makes things easy for us on the video length front by capping all shorts video, restricting them to a duration of one minute or below.
One of the most popular and profitable categories for YouTube videos is the product review niche.
A review video should briefly introduce the brand and the product, followed by a brief rundown of its features.
In the end, you should give a pros and cons list followed by your honest recommendation about whether to buy or pick an alternate product.
All this needs to be done in an engaging way in a well-lit environment with a host that has a charming presence and keeps the audience engaged as long as possible.
The ideal YouTube video length of a product review ranges from 3 to 5 minutes.
If you feel that you are unable to deliver the complete review within a 5-minute window, you could always break the video into multiple parts, like a miniseries focusing on a single product review.
Once again, the YouTube videos in this category will usually get searched for as viewers would be looking to learn something from them or hoping to get clarity or an explanation of some sort.
Now, if the tutorial is about software, for example, you may either want to cover a certain aspect of it or teach how to use the software completely.
As you would have probably guessed, there will be a different approach in each case. If software like Adobe Premiere Pro is being taught in the video, for instance, you may pick an area like color grading or giving a general overview of the tools on the main panel. If you dive straight into the video and avoid fluff, a suitable duration to cover the topic could be 5-to-7-minute.
Do note that apart from stumbling on a YouTube video like this, most viewers would purposely search for this content, and you have a better chance of a view if your video gives a quick solution and has a shorter duration than others covering the same topic.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to cover the whole software, you would be better off breaking the topics down into smaller chunks that have a duration of 10 to 15 minutes each. You can link them all together in order so that those who are interested in learning the whole software can follow the series easily. This structure is very familiar for beauty vloggers who run whole how-to series about makeup and etc.
Commentary YouTube Videos
These types of videos include a person (who may or may not show his face on the camera) giving his opinion on any subject like world events, conspiracies, trends, etc.
The ideal duration of a YouTube video in this category may vary between 20 to 45 minutes.
However, channels with substantial fan followings have seen success with videos even more than 90 minutes in length, provided that the content is engaging and the topic demands it.
This is another very popular niche on YouTube. These YouTube videos usually show things related to any topic that may be arranged in a list, for example, top 10 audio interfaces or top 10 mobile phones for under $400.
The lists don’t necessarily have to be about products but can be about anything in general, like top 10 goals of a football season or top 5 batting averages in a baseball season, etc.
Normally if you wish to target the general public with your podcasts, the ideal duration can be between the 15-to-20-minute mark.
Some topics may require a longer duration so that the viewers can get the most out of them.
For instance, if your podcast is about you learning a skill, then a long-form video could be more beneficial in providing valuable information for the viewers to follow and implement in their own lives. In this case, you could try to make a video that falls in the 45-to-90-minute range.
A vlog or video blog is a series of videos generally starring the owner of the YouTube channel. It can cover a day in the life of the video creator or can be a travel vlog that shows the creator visiting different locations and covering his journey and experience in the vlog.
The average length of a vlog is about 7 to 15 minutes to deliver the content and maintain good audience retention.
However, if you want to get specific, a video length of 11 or 12-minute could prove ideal.
Compilation videos involve several small clips on a particular topic patched together using the software. This is again a very popular video idea on YouTube.
These genres of YouTube videos involve looped videos of something that looks aesthetically pleasing (mostly sceneries or scenes from nature) packaged with looped ambient or nature-related sounds. Since the purpose of such videos is to have a calming and relaxing effect, the viewers may have the video on as background music while going about their normal routine.
These involve walk-throughs of games, videos of difficult levels/puzzles being solved, game glitches, game mods, etc.
This category has a very specific audience, so video retention is generally good as whoever clicks the video has the intention of watching a good chunk of it.
The ideal duration for gaming videos is somewhere between 25-to-30-minute range, although some gaming aspects may take lesser time. Variation is the key. Set the length according to your requirement.
These could cover any aspect of the sporting world like stats, a rundown of recent sporting events, highlights of a match, talking to athletes, teaching a sport, giving tips, etc.
The content will dictate how long the video should be but the general average duration walls in the vicinity of 15 to 25 minutes.
By now, you may have come to grips with the fact that there is no hard and fast rule here regarding the ideal video length for YouTube.
The key message here is to keep the content engaging and keep experimenting to see what works best for you. The best practices may include presenting the video in a way so that it covers all the topics it claims to cover, avoids fluff, and delivers more in less time.
Lastly, you need to continuously reassess your strategy through YouTube analytics. Remember, you are looking to increase your subscribers and viewing hours, but other factors like average percentage/duration viewed, audience retention, re-watches, impressions, and click-through rates will help you shape your strategy regarding the ideal length of videos on your YouTube channel.
Taking everything into account and not separating any particular niche, the best average time for YouTube video length is between 8 and 10 minutes.